Fiji Times charged over ‘inciteful’ article against Muslims

Three senior officials of The Fiji Times and another man appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, The Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief, Fred Wesley and The Fiji Times general manager/publisher Hank Arts, the Fiji Times Limited.

They are charged with inciting communal antagonism in relation to letter to the editor published by the Fiji Times in its supplemental iTaukei language newspaper, Nai Lalakai on April 27 this year.

A fourth man, Josaia Waqabaca, the author of the letter also appeared in court and was charged with the same offence.

The charges were made under the Crimes Decree, passed by the military government in 2009.

The letter accused Muslims of invading foreign lands, and killing, raping and abusing women and children.

It also warned that some muslims had found their way into Fiji’s parliament.

It was written by Josaia Waqabaca, who was jailed after the 2000 coup, for his role in a plot to kidnap the then military commander, and now prime minister, Frank Bainimarama.

The Decree’s section 65 prohibits any communication that is likely to incite dislike, hatred or antagonism of any community.

The April 27 letter includes this paragraph:

The content  read:

Ko ira na Musulomani era sega ni taukei kei Viti, sai ira nai lawalawa oqo era a curu botea na vanua eso ka dua vei ira ko Bangladesh mai Idia, kara vei vakamatei kina, kucuvi na nodra yalewa, ra vakararawataki na gone me yacova sara nira sa lewa ka sa nodra tu edaidai

Translation:

Muslims are not the indigenous of this country. These are people that have invaded other nations, for example, Bangladesh in India, where they killed, raped and abused their women and children. Today they have gone to the extent of having a part in the running of the country”.

The four were required to provide sureties of a $1000 each and were released on bail.

They will reappear in court on August 31.

The maximum penalty for the charge is 10 years imprisonment.

In 2013, the newspaper was fined $US 170,000 for contempt of court, for publishing an article that called into question the independence of Fiji’s post-coup judiciary.

Source

News category: Asia Pacific.

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